Robert W. Service

Robert William Service (January 16, 1874 – September 11, 1958) was a British-Canadian poet and writer, often called "the Bard of the Yukon".

Born in Lancashire of Scottish descent, he was a bank clerk by trade, but spent long periods travelling in Western America and Canada, often in some poverty. When his bank sent him to the Yukon, he was inspired by tales of the Klondike Gold Rush, and wrote two poems "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee", which showed remarkable authenticity from an author with no experience of gold-mining, and enjoyed immediate popularity. Encouraged by this, he quickly wrote more poems on the same theme, which were published as Songs of a Sourdough (re-titled The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses in the U.S.), and achieved a massive sale. When his next collection Ballads of a Cheechako proved equally successful, Service could afford to travel widely and live a leisurely life, basing himself in Paris and the French Riviera.

Partly because of their popularity, and the speed with which he wrote them, his works were dismissed as doggerel by the critics, who were tending to say the same of Kipling, with whom Service was often compared. This did not worry Service, who was happy to classify his work as “verse, not poetry”.

Birth and Death Data: Born January 16, 1874 (Preston), Died September 11, 1958 (Lancieux)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1915 - 1928

Roles Represented in DAHR: author, lyricist


Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-16279 10-in. 7/29/1915 The spell of the Yukon Taylor Holmes Recitation author  
Victor C-28784 12-in. 10/27/1923 The shooting of Dan McGrew Taylor Holmes Recitation, with piano author  
Victor [Trial 1919-11-11-01] Not documented 11/11/1919 The Gramophone at Fond-du-Lac Carl L. Marcus Recitation author  
Columbia 77593 10-in. 12/20/1917 It's a mighty good world after all Greek Evans Male vocal solo, with orchestra author  
Columbia 98148 12-in. 4/29/1924 The shooting of Dan McGraw Barbara Lemarr Recitation, with piano author  
Edison 5980 10-in. between 1/23/1918 and 1/24/1918 It's a mighty good world after all Arthur Middleton Baritone vocal solo, with orchestra author  
Edison 18840 10-in. 10/30/1928 Carry on Homer A. Rodeheaver Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Edison N-535 10-in. 10/30/1928 Carry on Homer A. Rodeheaver Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Service, Robert W.," accessed January 22, 2022,

Service, Robert W.. (2022). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved January 22, 2022, from

"Service, Robert W.." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2022. Web. 22 January 2022.

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